Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google to Test Ultra-Fast Broadband

Via -

Google Inc. said it will begin selling ultra-fast Internet access to consumers, a test that could threaten existing telecommunications carriers' grip on the Web and is designed to show off new uses of the Internet at high speeds.

Under the plan, Google will build an experimental fiber network that will target several cities and between 50,000 and 500,000 people, the company announced Wednesday.

In an interview, Google product manager Minnie Ingersoll said consumers will be able to buy service directly from Google or from other providers, whom Google will allow to resell the service. She said Google will manage the deployment of the network but probably partner with contractors to help build it.

Google said it would offer service at a speed of 1 gigabit per second—or 100 times faster than what many U.S. consumers are used to—and would offer the service at "a competitive price."

Ms. Ingersoll declined to say how much Google planned to invest in the project, saying it would vary based on which cities participated. She said Google plans to "foot the bill" for the deployments itself, without government subsidies.

Google doesn't plan to roll the service out as a national network, Ms. Ingersoll said. Instead, Google's goal is to help demonstrate how faster access can lead to more innovative Internet services. In a blog post, Google described watching live 3D video lectures and streaming medical imagery as examples.

"We have been advocating that the FCC set up an experimental testbed and this is our way of putting our money where our mouth is," she said.

The move comes as Google and service providers have been facing off over a number of issues in Washington, from the availability of spectrum for wireless access to net-neutrality, the issue of whether operators should be allowed to charge different content providers different rates for delivering their service.

Ms. Ingersoll said Google network plans were "in line" with the company's views on open access and net-neutrality, since Google would be opening the network up to other providers and would not discriminate between different sorts of traffic carried by it.

Google is requesting input from interested cities by March 26 and plans to announce those selected and other details later this year.

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